Open The Way
Get your friend into the Word of God as fast as you can, but in the meantime let him know that you respect him even the differences that are between you.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again radio friends, how in the world are you? You’re doing all right today? Well, I’m glad to be back with you, what a joy it is to open God’s Word and just to share some of these thoughts that come to my own heart as I think and pray about it. I always begin these broadcasts, before I go on the air by asking God that His wisdom and love, and His power, and all of the precious insights that the Holy Spirit of God can bring that all of this and wrapped up in a package of God’s love might come to you dear friend.
We’re looking at Romans 14:1, “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations”. Now, what does it mean, really to receive a person? We’ve talked about what it means to be weak in the faith, and how you can strengthen people, but what does it mean, really to receive them? “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye”. And it’s a Greek verb, proslambanó which means reach out and bring him to you. You wanna think about that with me for a moment? Well, I think it has to start with noticing people. Our Lord Jesus was an expert at that.
It says in one place when the Lord saw him and knew that he’d been now a long time in that case, he said “Son. Thy sins be forgiven thee”. And so on. Our Lord noticed people. There were some folk crying outside the town. “Jesus, thou Son of David have mercy on us”. People around said, “Oh, be still, be still”. But Jesus stopped listened to them and said “Bring them over here”. Outside of the little town of Nain, it’s spelled. There was a funeral procession, the sort of thing that happened everyday, but the Lord Jesus saw that this was a widowed lady, and now, this was her only son being buried and he stopped the procession and brought life back to the young man. He notice people with needs. Do you… Have you developed that quality? This is something that is not natural to many of us, but it can be developed. You can go through a whole day just looking for people to help, looking for people to encourage, and looking for people who may have a need which you can help to fill. Notice people. The fact is we go through life blind to the conditions of most of the people around us, isn’t that true? And where there is a possibility of involvement? We go right on oftentimes.
I was a passenger in a car one Sunday night in a city in the midwest. Going to a late service, the man who was driving the car was a friend of mine, and we were on our way to this late service. It was, I suppose maybe 10 or 10:30 in the evening, Sunday night. We came to an intersection, and stopped just at that moment, someone ran through the red light at a high rate of speed, and crashed into another car, travelling at an equally high rate of speed, and cars and glass and debris and bodies were tossed about the intersection, the wail of someone who was in pain split the night air, and to my amazement, the man who was driving the car stepped on the gas and said, “Let’s get out of here. We don’t wanna get involved”. Well, I was a passenger and I couldn’t do a great deal about it, at that point except to tell him that I didn’t agree with his point of view.
“Let’s get out of here. We don’t wanna get involved”. This is the natural human reaction to other people’s miseries, woes and heartaches. “Don’t get involved”. “Why?”. Well, because when you notice someone and get involved with him or her, you become vulnerable to the kind of hurt that they have. So I think the first step, if you’re going to obey this command in Romans 14:1, is to be willing to notice people stop and become involved with their situation. Dr. Clyde Narramore said in my hearing years ago, something that has stuck in my memory, and I’ve used it many times. He said “It’s the second question that proves whether or not you care”. You pass someone in the hallway and you say, “How are you, Suzie?” And she says “Not so good”. And you say, “Well I’m sorry”. And you go on, does that prove you care? No, it doesn’t, but says Dr. Narramore, if you stop and turn on your heel and say, “Oh, I’m sorry, what seems to be the trouble?” Then you have proved that you care and Susie can open her heart to you, and say that, tell you that her father pushed her mother down the cellar stairs, and broke her hip and she’s in the hospital, and they’re worried sick about her and so on.
It’s the second question that says whether or not you care. It’s the second thank you, I said this to you a few days ago, the second thank you that proves whether or not you’re really grateful. Someone wrote me a letter and said, I did that very thing, I thanked somebody, for a photo album that they had given me. I’m gonna use it for pictures of my grandchild. Well, bless your heart, grandma and then go ahead and enjoy it. And I’m sure that when you gave that second thank you, the person who had given you the album in the first place, was delighted, right?
So to become involved means to ask the second question, what seems to be the trouble? It means to look beyond the polite facade of how are you and pleased to meet you, and I’m sorry you don’t feel well, good bye. What else does it mean? Well now we’re talking about people who are weak in the faith, and that means then that you’re going to have to set aside. It seems to me set aside the natural tendency to look down upon people who are not as advanced as you in the Christian faith. Every one of us needs to be reminded constantly that there but for the grace of God go I. You know it is not to our credit that we have gotten anywhere with the Lord, because it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure, and the faithful Holy Spirit has been working in your heart to bring you to the place where you now are. So it’s not to our credit that we are anything, “By the grace of God” said Paul, “By the grace of God. I am what I am”. And we need to set aside that inevitable, human tendency to look down on someone who is not as far advanced in matters of the faith as we seem to be, accept the person, notice him, and let him know that you realize that he’s a person of value.
Now the way that you let a person think he’s valuable, or use the word know, instead of think, the way that you let a person know that you think he’s valuable is by paying attention to him, develop the art of listening, listening means put out of sight, and out of your hand anything you’ve been doing before, don’t be a paper clip twister, or a paper shuffler, or a fidgeter, or whatever it may be. Put out of sight and out of mind what you’ve been doing before, look at the person who’s talking, pay attention, ask questions that will help to enlighten the situation, if you don’t quite understand. Play it back to him or her in your own words. This is part of the technique of counseling. You listen, you ask questions and you play it back to the person, what he has been saying, but you do it in your own words, you accept him as a person of value, and as a person who has some rights and some dignity on his own. A friend of mine who was a minister was given a rather strange task by a local judge in the town where he had a pastor, the local judge had a young man come before him who was accused of some crime or other and he sentenced that young man to spend a number of weeks in counseling with this minister, in other words as part of his sentence and to avoid going to jail, he had to show up in the Minister’s office once every so often for a counseling session, that was his sentence.
Well, my friend said when this boy arrived, you could see that he was mad, he was defiant, he was hostile and he just sat there, scrunched down in the chair with his feet stuck out in front of him in a disrespectful attitude and hostility in his eyes, as if to say, “I just dare you to do or say anything that’ll make any difference”. And so my friend said to him, he said, well he said, “I guess you and I are gonna have to have some sessions together because Judge so and so has made this part of your sentence hasn’t he?” And the boy grunted and said, “Yes”. And so my friend said, “You know, “I can tell that you don’t like the idea very much, and I have to tell you, if I were in your place, I wouldn’t like it either”. And at that point, he said the boy sat up and brightened up and there began a conversation that made some sense, because here he had been recognized as being a person of some value, and that his feelings, the way he felt actually had some justification to them.
People long to have somebody agree with them. Had you ever thought of the fact that the reason we talk about the weather, is that we can get agreement? “Nice day”, “isn’t it?” “Yes”. Well we agree. “Hot day, isn’t it?” “Yeah it’s very warm”. See, we find people with whom we can agree on something. The human heart just longs for somebody to recognize that it is correct in something. Now, if you realize that you’re gonna look for a way to find a basis for some kind of recognition and agreement with this person, you’re gonna find a way to complement sincerely complement something about them. If you’re going really to receive them in the sense that we have here in Romans 14:1. Take them into your own heart, you’re gonna find a way to compliment them on something, you’re gonna recognize that they are authentic human beings with their own set of feelings and hopes and hurts, and dreams. And you’re going in the process to let them know that you think they’re worthwhile.
We need to notice the points of difference as well and respect them, don’t try to change people, respect them as they are and let the Holy Spirit of God work in their lives. “We all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord are changed”. You don’t do the changing God does the changing. When you get into the Word of God, so get your friend into the Word of God as fast as you can. But in the meantime, let him know that you respect him, even the differences that are between you, listen carefully, respect the person show him your love, show him that you accept him as he is, and then get him into God’s Word, so the Holy Spirit of God can change him. Good idea? Well it does work. Anything I tell you, I’ve been there. Don’t bother lecturing people or arguing with them, get them in touch with God’s Word and love them, and the Holy Spirit of God is going to do the rest.
Dear Father, today, help us to receive people, love them and help to open the way for the Holy Spirit to change them in Jesus name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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